Success Stories

Vinny’s Deli

Probably the first thing that you notice when you enter Vinny’s Deli in Pawling, NY, is that, even if Vinny’s employees are busy with other customers, they look up with a smile to acknowledge your arrival and seem genuinely happy to see you. If you’re not quite sure which sandwich to order, they cheerfully suggest their personal favorites. If your order will take a little while to prepare, they’ll probably offer you a free cup of coffee or soda while you wait. Finally, don’t be surprised to leave feeling just a little bit better than when you first arrived.

For deli owner Vinny LaMorte, doing everything in his power to give each customer a memorably positive shopping experience isn’t a pie-in-the-sky goal, it is a matter of economic survival. As Vinny says, “Grocery chains and club stores blow me away on price, so I have to be better in other ways.”

In addition to making and selling great tasting food, Vinny coaches his staff to personally engage every customer. Their ultimate goal is to never allow a guest to have a ho-hum shopping experience they could get anywhere else.

While many businesses talk about delighting customers, Vinny actively works on helping his staff internalize the importance of wowing each customer. For example, Vinny teaches his team how to read guests’ body language as they arrive to gauge whether they’re in a hurry, whether they’re looking for something, or whether they’re just enjoying a look around. He also consistently demonstrates how he wants them to treat customers, whether it’s by jumping in to help another employee pull together a big order or by rushing to open the door for an arriving customer.

In the same way that Vinny counts on giving away coffee and soda when his adult customers are inconvenienced, Vinny keeps a box of sweets behind the counter. When parents are visiting the first time, Vinny first asks whether their child would enjoy some C.A.N.D.Y? On the other hand, when Vinny’s pint sized regulars arrive, they know they’re always welcome to slip behind the counter to help themselves to a foil wrapped chocolate.

To further ensure his modestly sized shop stands out from big, impersonal competitors, Vinny works to make his place’s unique personality shine through. For example, Vinny highlights employee favorites on his menu and mentions when it’s their birthday on his daily FAX menu.

On the sandwich menu, Vinny also has fun with creative names for various signature offerings. For example, orders picked up for the “grilled chicken breast sandwich” once Vinny redubbed it the “Sophia Lor-hen.”

On a more serious note, Vinny also pays homage to his Old Country roots by hand making fresh mozzarella every day, with curd supplied by his Independent distributor. Since handmade mozzarella isn’t widely available, this signature item has made Vinny’s a favorite destination for true aficionados.

To make the most of this unique signature item, Vinny isn’t shy about treating guests to plenty of bite sized samples. Since it’s hard to find anywhere else, he figures the more locals he can encourage to fall in love with its distinctively creamy texture, the more frequently they’ll be coming back to see him!

But probably most important to Vinny’s success is his philosophy of engaging every customer eye to eye and smile to smile. By making every customer feel like a VIP, Vinny’s team is creating the special kind of loyalty that the big guys can’t touch.